Court dismisses Opuni’s stay of proceedings application

The Criminal Division of the Accra High Court has dismissed a consolidated application for stay of proceedings in the ongoing trial of former CEO of COCOBOD, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni and two others.

The applicants were requesting the Court to Stay its Proceedings, pending notice of appeal against his dismissal of a submission of no case.

Trial Judge, Justice Clemence Honyenugah, a Supreme Court judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, declined the application, indicating that the applicants failed to show the Court why it should exercise its discretion in their favour.

Justice Honyenugah said the defense lawyers did not show under which rule their application was brought but it was prosecution which indicated it was brought under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

He again referred to what the defense cited as rejection of exhibits and ruled that it’s not a good ground to state for that matter.

Citing several authorities to buttress his reasons, he concluded that under the circumstances the application for stay of proceedings is dismissed.

He came to this conclusion after defense lawyers moved their application for the motion on stay of proceedings and argued about the rejection of some of the exhibits they tendered as evidence by the Court.

They are of the view that it’s unfair for the court to admit same by the prosecution witness.

It was their submission that by this act the court erred and it constitutes an exceptional circumstance in that if the exhibits were considered, the court would have come to a different conclusion.

Lawyer Emmanuel Nutsukpui said the trial is a criminal one and individual liberties are at stake.

He stressed that it is better for 99 accused persons to sail through than one innocent person to be wrongly convicted.

Mr. Nutsukpui explained that assuming the court was right in clarifying those rejected statements as hearsay evidence, why did they not benefit from the court as the prosecution.

Defense lawyers said the rejection of those exhibits has an effect on their clients and it should be seen that their fate is already sealed thereby violating their constitutionally guaranteed rights of fair trial.

Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson in her submission said that they are opposed to both applications as consolidated by court.

She drew the court’s attention that under the current law of CI, 132 the rules no longer permit stay of proceedings.

She said there is no rule of law that permits the applicant to apply for a stay of proceedings.

According to the State Attorney, the only issue the Defense Lawyers have raised in the application is the court’s rejection of their evidence.

The Court has consequently ordered Dr. Opuni to open his defense on the 3rd of next month.

Dr. Opuni, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, Seidu Agongo, and the business entity-Agricult Ghana Limited, are standing trial for allegedly causing the state to lose more than 217 million Ghana Cedis in a cocoa fertilizer transaction.

Story filed by: Yvonne Asare Offei

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